The best books to learn how to read Tarot

Why am I passionate about this?

When I joined the Peace Corps in the early nineties, I wasn’t allowed to take much luggage. I decided to bring a Tarot deck, figuring I’d finally have time to learn it while parked in an Estonian forest. That Tarot deck opened up a world of Renaissance mysticism and magic, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Tarot cards and readings feature prominently in many of my cozy mystery novels, not the least of which are the Tea and Tarot mysteries. Now my imaginary Tarot reader from that series, Hyperion Night, has recently written his own Tarot guidebook, The Mysteries of Tarot.

I wrote...

The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

By Kirsten Weiss,

Book cover of The Mysteries of Tarot: A Work of the Imagination

What is my book about?

When Tarot reader Hyperion Night sent his manuscript, The Mysteries of Tarot, to a friend to edit, it was a simple guide to reading Tarot. Hyperion couldn’t anticipate that his editor’s notes would evolve into a murder mystery, or that his friend would go missing. Shockingly, the annotated manuscript eventually made its way back to Hyperion, who forwarded it to the authorities.

Now this astonishing Tarot guide is available as a book featuring Tarot basics, detailed card breakdowns, and questions to apply to the cards to transform your life. The guidebook also includes his editor’s comments on the more esoteric and philosophical interpretations of the Tarot, as well as his notes on the baffling mystery that engulfed him. Gain insight from the cards, transform yourself, and solve the Mysteries of Tarot.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Tarot Journey to Self-Awareness

Kirsten Weiss Why did I love this book?

Rachel Pollack is one of my Tarot heroes (the woman even created her own deck).

Her guidebook is a Tarot-reading classic as well as one of the books that got me started down my Tarot-research wormhole. In this book, she explores the meanings of the cards using archetypes, numerology, and folklore. And she does this in a way accessible to modern readers. 

But this is more than a book on card symbolism. The book also includes sample readings to help readers get an understanding of how to read the cards. Simply put, you cannot go wrong with Rachel Pollack. Her writing is clear, relevant, and insightful. She knows her stuff.

By Rachel Pollack,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling tarot classic in a new edition with a new preface by the author.

“Whenever I have a question about tarot, I reach for 78 Degrees of Wisdom. It is the most in-depth exploration of tarot and my most trusted resource. If you want to learn tarot, you’ll want 78 Degrees on your bookshelf too. It’s the gold standard in tarot.” —Theresa Reed, author of Tarot No Questions Asked

"What is your favorite tarot book? The answer is always 78 Degrees of Wisdom."—Melissa Cynova, author of Kitchen Table Tarot

“Essential reading for the beginner and a classic that tarot…

Book cover of Understanding the Tarot Court

Kirsten Weiss Why did I love this book?

It’s said that court cards can be the trickiest for Tarot readers to interpret. This was certainly true for me when I was starting out, so Understanding the Tarot Court became invaluable to me. 

Mary K. Greer is another Tarot classicist and has spent decades delving into the history and usage of Tarot. The book goes deep into the symbolism and meanings of various cards—both upright and reversed—even going so far as to equate them to Myers-Briggs personality types.

Perhaps more importantly, it also has excellent explanations of how to read these quirky cards. 

By Mary K. Greer, Tom Little,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding the Tarot Court as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just who are those kings, queens, knights, and pages in the Tarot deck? Generally considered the most difficult part of the Tarot to interpret, they actually represent different characters or personalities that are aspects of ourselves. Two esteemed Tarot scholars unmask the court cards with details not found in any other book. They bring the Tarot court cards to life, showing their full human possibilities.

Book cover of The Tarot: History, Symbolism, & Divination

Kirsten Weiss Why did I love this book?

Robert Place is my favorite Tarot historian and artist.

What I love about this book is that he writes it in such a way that his discussion of the history of the cards makes it easier to understand and remember their symbolism (always useful when you’re trying to read Tarot). It also has detailed descriptions of different spreads.

But to my mind, it’s just a fun, interesting read, and a book I’ve turned to many a time for research and reading purposes.

By Robert Place,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Tarot is one of the few books that cuts through conventional misperceptions to explore the Tarot deck as it really developed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Europe-not, as some would suggest, in the far reaches of Egyp-tian antiquity. Mining the Hermetic, alchemical, and Neoplatonic influences behind the evolution of the deck, author Robert M. Place provides a historically grounded and compelling portrait of the Tarot's true origins, without overlooking the deck's mystical dimensions.

Indeed, Place uncommonly weds reliable historiography with a practical understanding of the intuitive help and divinatory guidance that the cards can bring. He presents techniques…

Book cover of The True Nature of Tarot: Your Path To Personal Empowerment

Kirsten Weiss Why did I love this book?

When I was first learning to read Tarot, one of my big challenges was understanding how the cards worked together.

I eventually came up with my own method. But if I’d had this book when I was starting out, I would have figured things out much more quickly. 

Diane Wing goes into all the basics of Tarot reading, including some of the more metaphysical elements. But this book’s strength is the extensive Tarot combinations section.

If understanding how the cards fit together is something you’re struggling with, this is your book.

By Diane Wing,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The True Nature of Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn the Tarot to Bring Divine Guidance to Your Daily Life

Tarot empowers those who connect with its wisdom. As a tool of enlightenment, it guides, reveals hidden insights, and reflects the hopes, fears, and energies of the practitioner and seeker. Based in Universal Law, the cards form a book of metaphysics. Their interpretations change with your level of understanding to help you navigate your life path and generate alternatives. It is a boundless tool that allows you to tap into ancient wisdom that promotes deep transformation of the self and the way in which you experience interactions with the…

Book cover of The Marseille Tarot Revealed: A Complete Guide to Symbolism, Meanings, and Methods

Kirsten Weiss Why did I love this book?

Today’s Tarot decks tend to be clones of one of the three main “models”: The Rider-Waite-Smith, the Marseille, and the Thoth Deck.

Most books on reading Tarot reference the former, the Rider-Waite-Smith. But if you’re going to get serious about reading, it’s useful to have an understanding of the Marseille deck.

When I first picked up a Marseille deck, however, I put it down pretty quickly. No symbols on the Minor Arcana? How was I supposed to read the cards without rote memorization (which I hate)?

But the Marseille style is based on the original Tarot decks from Renaissance Italy, and they’re more typically used in Europe. This deck is important. So when I found this book, despite my misgivings about ever understanding the deck, I decided to give it a read. 

What a revelation. There actually are symbols on the Minor Arcana—they’re just subtle. Using numerology and an explanation of the symbols, the author reveals a clear and simple way to read these cards.

I also appreciated his discussion of what he calls “open reading,” using the cards as triggers for your own subconscious and your culture’s meanings for the symbols.

Finally, I have the paperback version of this book, and it is one of the most beautiful paperbacks in my library. Between the high paper quality, the full-color illustrations, and the thoughtful layout, this book is a delight.

By Yoav Ben-Dov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Marseille Tarot Revealed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the Marseille Tarot! This book explores the fascinating history of this often misunderstood deck and provides practical insights into using it for readings on a variety of questions. Yoav Ben-Dov shares the meaning of the classic Marseille symbols and specific reading techniques that help you tap into your own intuition. The Marseille Tarot Revealed explains everything you need to know to start or deepen your Marseille Tarot practice, including history, decks, reading, spreads, symbols and much more.

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The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

By Bill Hiatt,

Book cover of The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

Bill Hiatt Author Of Different Lee

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Insatiable reader English teacher Life-long learner Hiker Webmaster

Bill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Guaritori awakens from a coma to find that he's lost twenty years--and his entire world.

Fiancée, family, and friends are all missing, perhaps dead. Technology has failed, and magic has risen, leaving society in ruins. Most survivors are at the mercy of anyone who has strong enough magic. Guaritori has none. He finds a protector, but his troubles are far from over.

The new society in which he finds himself is superficially friendly but surrounded by enemies and full of secrets. Guaritori doesn't know it yet, but the biggest secret is his. If his protector knew who he truly was, she would kill him.

The Strange Case of Guaritori Diolco

By Bill Hiatt,

What is this book about?

Coming out of a coma after twenty years, Guaritori--Garth to his friends--discovers that the world he knew no longer exists.

Advanced technology has failed. Magic, which he didn't know even existed, has become much more powerful. Supernatural groups battle for supremacy, forcing human beings to seek shelter wherever they can find it.
Garth's only hope for survival lies with a varied group including a shape-shifter, an alchemist, a tarot card reader, a blacksmith with a flaming sword, and others. But a prophecy foretells that he will bring about the downfall of their leader, the mysterious Ms. M.

Even worse, Garth…

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